If you read yesterday's post, you'll know that my camino colleague and I had a bad night in Barcelos, deprived of sleep by a fairground that operated at 11 on the dial until 1.15am and then at a lower volume until 5am.
Today things got
considerably worse, culminating in a farce that reduced us to
laughter out of a mixture of bemusement, desperation and a small
helping of anger.
Things went well as regards the walking itself, though we were distracted by the presence
of a café at one point and missed a turn, compelling us to walk half
a kilometre in the wrong direction before concluding the yellow
marker signs were not just few and far between but non-existent.
the day, I'd received two messages – both in English – which
encouraged me to think that we were heading for a nice accommodating
place in Vitorino de Piães. The first was to ask whether they wanted
us to arrange for the onward transport of our bags today and the
other was to say that they had a lunch waiting for us yesterday.
Despite the fact we wouldn't be arriving until 4 or 5.
We arrived in Vitorino de Piães around 4.15, left the camino and
headed for the location of the B&B - A Casa do Campo –
as shown by Google Maps. We did this in the face
of comments and advice from at least 5 kind locals, all of whom were, first, anxious to tell us we were going the wrong way for
Santiago and, secondly, non-plussed when we told them we were heading
for the Casa do Campo. Of which none of them had ever heard. But
we plodded on, tired but sure we were doing the right thing.
After walking around 900 metres we entered the cul-de-sac indicated by Google and found
not a B&B but 2 locked and shuttered houses guarded by 3 large
dogs on chains.
I checked with both Google Maps and with the
reservation from booking.com, only to be given the same - incorrect –
information. I then accosted 2 passing ladies, who advised us to
return to the church, where they thought the place might be. Though
they'd never heard of it nor knew of the street it was said to be in.
As we set off, I called the number on which messages had been sent to
me and had a conversation in almost-English with what sounded like the
son of the owners. This resulted in a promise that we'd be picked up
from outside the church in ten minutes. I was left wondering who on
earth had sent the 2 messages earlier in the day. Clearly not the
owners of the B&B. Their son or booking.com's computer??
A car duly arrived, containing a family of 2 adults and 2 teenagers. They were clearly
surprised there were 2 of us. As this was too many passengers for
the car, the parents disappeared and left us to chat to the kids
about the fact that Google and booking.com had both misdirected us.
The car returned several minutes later, minus the wife. The husband,
then drove us back towards the wrong cul-de-sac and up the next minor
road, for several hundred metres. Finally, we arrived at an imposing
gate, drove up a long drive and arrived at a large house, where the
wife was waiting.
Once inside the house, it didn't take us long to realise it was a self-catering place, devoid of
any food whatsoever. And with an Aga-type thing in the kitchen on
which we were clearly expected to cook our dinner, sans instructions.
In fact - apart from bed linen and towels – the only things in the
place were our bags, which - to our relief and very great surprise -
had found their from our hotel in Barcelos. Oh, and a small TV on top
of the (empty) fridge, offering - it turned out - 7 Portuguese channels. But no bath for our weary limbs.
As we looked at each other in more-than-mild shock, the couple asked us what we wanted
them to buy for us by way of food, both for last night and this
morning. And then left us to ask ourselves what on earth was going on
and why booking.com had not advised of the nature of the place. Or,
indeed, on how to get to it correctly! And we wondered how previous
guests – if indeed there had been any – had found their way to
An hour or so later, the 4 of them returned with a stack of food and drink. I took the
opportunity to ask the son whether it was a new venture, and
was less than surprised to hear it was and that they hadn't had any guests - foreignor otherwise - before us. Clear evidence of this was the newness of
the toaster, the kitchen utensils, the plastic washing-up bowl and a few other
things the family had brought back from their shopping trip to - I guessed – Ponte de Lima.
It has to be stressed that the couple were charm itself and said they'd bring us 'portable
wifi' shortly. And that the wife would come by in the morning to hand
over our bags to the transport company after we'd left. Meanwhile,
they stressed that several items were gifts from them.
As they drove away, we opened the bottle of red wine they'd brought and then settled down to cook
cod, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. And, meanwhile, eat the pastries
we'd been gifted. Well, one of us did.
All's well that ends well, they say. Which was never truer than in this case. Our
bemusement and mild anger at being guinea pigs had been converted
into pleasure by the kindness and all round niceness of the family.
Final note: The street
– lane, rather – in which the house is actually situated was only
a few hundred metres from where the 2 old dears had told me they had
no idea where it was. This is not the first time I've experienced
this with people who've lived in the same place all their lives. My
impression is that new streets never become known to them. That said, the address of Casa do Campo is: Rua Fonte de Ferrão. One possible reason why no one in the tiny village had heard of it was that a double R in Portuguese is pronounced as Kh, and so nothing like the double R in Spanish I'm familiar with and was employing . . . .
At the insistence of my walking companion, here's a foto of the cooker/oven:-
Footnote to yesterday: When I checked out of our hotel in Barcelos, I told the receptionist
that the least the hotel could do - in view of my lack of sleep –
was not to charge me for the Kit Kat I'd had from the minibar.
Happily, she readily agreed. But I will still send off my letters of